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258                              THE GAY GENIUS

The most important case, which stirred up a hornet's nest, was that
of Chou Chung. In this case Su Tungpo lost all restraint. Temporarily
out of power and occupying posts in the outlying provinces, the
remnants of Wang Anshih's party were fighting for a come-back. Then
leaders, Huiching, Leeding, Tsai Chueh, etc., had been ousted, but
many of their friends were still holding posts in the capital. In order
to test the attitude of the court, they asked an obscure and unknown^
college teacher, Chou Chung, to submit a memorandum recommend-
ing that Wang Anshih's spirit tablet be placed in the imperial ancestral
temple below that of Emperor Shentsung, and that it receive sacrifices
with those offered the Emperor. If the Empress had granted this, it
would have been a clear signal to the plotters to come out and work
in the open. Sensing their meaning, Su Tungpo lashed out at these
fortune-hunting opportunists. He named sixteen men of this group
and stigmatised them as "lice", "bugs", "rogues and scoundrels", and
"enemies of society". For once he did not mince words about Wang*
Anshih, whom he all but called a great humbug and charlatan. He
told the Empress that if Fu Pi, Han Chi, or Szema Kuang were living,
"these rats" would not dare to show their faces. He warned that if
the schemers were not stopped now, "the future would see men like
Huiching and Tsai Chueh return to power and the farmers' loans and
trade bureaus restored," From his own observation he was sure this
was going to happen. In fact, his decision to leave the court was already
made. He said that upright men, like unicorns and phoenixes, were
difficult to keep, but petty politicians were like "market flies which
swarm wherever there is a refuse-heap". The logic is clear: If a mgfljf
doesn't like to associate with flies, he should keep away from the
garbage himself.

In the course of two years, Su Tungpo, by his strong individualism
and outspoken, fearless criticism, had succeeded in offending a great
number of people, including the Hopei and Honan cliques. And
Tungpo had made himself a menace and a nuisance to Wang Anshih's
party men! Unless Su Tungpo was removed, these men could not come
back to power.

It is interesting to read some of the impeachments. Probably the
most interesting case was an imperial edict drafted by Su Tungpo for
an appointment of Lu Tafang, an opponent of Wang Anshih, to a*
high office. Praising this official's courageous stand, the edict said that
* during Wang's administration, "the people were weary and hard
pressed". This phrase was a classical one that anybody might use. But
it was taken from a satirical verse in the Boo]^ of Poetry written in the
ninth century B.C. against a notorious emperor. The censors' eyes
brightened. They said Su was slandering Emperor Shentsung by com-
paring him to Emperor Li of the Chou dynasty. The censors' hearts?